Classically Tuscan, the villa 'Valdorcia' is set high above the Orcia valley, looking out over magnificent views towards Mont'Amiata.
The house is made for outdoors living, with a large downstairs kitchen and dining area, and the remaining rooms and bedrooms upstairs. The living, dining, talking will all take place outside, sitting at the old table looking at the view, or lying on the green lawn or by the swimming pool, set further down the slope, below the house.
The house itself is lived in and loved, with family heirlooms and antique furniture - this is no slick designer villa but a living, breathing layered property to relax into and enjoy. Read an interview with the family owners of Valdorcia here.
This house is perfectly placed for exploring the famous towns of the Valdorcia like Pienza and Sarteano, as well as for venturing further south to the beautiful, less known etruscan gems like Pitigliano and Sovana
Entrance to the large farmhouse is from the wide gravelled patio at the front.
A central arched door leads into a short entryway with a staircase to the upper floor and doorway to ground floor living areas, though guests may find they prefer the direct access from the patio to the large open space that includes kitchen and dining areas.
To the right the kitchen built-ins include a raised fireplace perfect for grilling while on the left there is both a breakfast nook for 6 and a central dining table for 8. A generous brick archway leads to a small sitting room with sofa and armchairs, a natural venue for a pre-diner cocktail or a quiet moment with a journal. One door off this room leads to a workshop in which a ping pong table is set up for in-house tournaments, while another opens to a twin/double bedroom with an ensuite shower room.
All other bedrooms are on the upper floor and feature two with double beds, two with twin beds that can be set up as doubles on request and one with a single bed. The bedrooms are all spacious and furnished with country antiques; while the two double bedrooms have en suite shower rooms, the others share a large bathroom with separate shower, whose anteroom has both a extra sink and small washing machine.
Also on this floor is a very large living room, laced with light and filled with comfortable furniture, an open fireplace, satellite TV and rising chestnut beams which catch the eye.
A Tuscan home positioned to take advantage of the view will naturally extend that opportunity to the outdoors. Consequently, the front patio has a large table for meals al fresco while on a slightly lower level the swimming pool sits framed in a green lawn, and both have the sweeping vista of the gentle valley of the Orcia river and hills which rise to mountain height before them. Part of the hill on which the property itself sits is beautifully planted with roses, lavender and camellia bushes amidst flowering trees and a backdrop of cypresses - all of which are cared for by the family's groundskeeper who has his own apartment on the property.
Just up the road, the 12th century village of Castiglioncello di Trinoro offers restaurants, an art gallery and summer concerts. Nearby Sarteano, dominated by its 15th century castle, provides all services necessary and celebrates both the old and the new - the old in the form of the 'Chariot from Hell' Etruscan tomb only unearthed in 2001 and the new in the Jazz and Blues Festival that enlivens the town in August. Within a half hour's drive are 'La Foce', Iris Origo's famed villa and gardens and Bagno Vignoni, a spa village whose historic central pool is fed by a subterranean aquifer - both are venues for summer concerts with worthy restaurants nearby.
Easy day trips could include visits to historic cities perched on panoramic heights - Pienza, Pope Pius II's ideal Renaissance city, or Montalcino, the home of the famed, though not inexpensive, Brunello wine - or those that spread on a wide valley floor, such as Arezzo, whose Piazza Grande fills with jousting knights for the Giostra del Saracino or with bargain hunters at its monthly Antiques Fair. Cortona of 'Under the Tuscan Sun' fame and the medieval gem Siena, whose shell-shaped piazza becomes the track of the Palio horserace held for over seven centuries, can be reached in just over an hour. So the question is not whether there are interesting visits to make, but which direction to take. Whichever direction, the road back to the comfortable Valdorcia farmhouse and its sweeping panorama will feel like coming home.
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